village in Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Not to be confused with South Walls, an Orkney island linked by causeway to Hoy

Walls or Waas (Old Norse Vagar "Sheltered Bays") is a small fishing village on the west Mainland of the Shetland Islands. The main reasons to come are the Neolithic "Temple" and to take the ferry to Foula, or the ferry from West Burrafirth to Papa Stour.

Get in

Sea cave on Papa Stour

By road from Lerwick it's 19 miles (30 km). Turn off A970 onto A971 at Lerwick-Tingwall airport.

Bus 9 runs five times M-F from Lerwick to Walls, taking 50 min via Whiteness and Hellister.

1 Walls ferry pier is half a mile south of the main village. The BK Marine ferry to Foula sails twice a week (Tu and Th), foot passengers only, taking 2 hours. It only carries 12 so reservations are essential on +44 1595 840 208. A day trip is not possible by ferry.

2 West Burrafirth, 20 miles north of Walls (and even more weary miles from anywhere else), is the ferry pier for Papa Stour. This ferry runs twice on W F and Sa, taking 45 min, so a day trip gives you five hours on the island. Sunday there's only one sailing. Until April 2025, the return fare is £2.80 per adult, child or conc £0.80.

Until 2019 there were flights between Lerwick-Tingwall and Papa Stour. It's not known when or if these might resume.

Get around

Oot bewast da Horn o Papa, Rowin Foula doon! Owir a hidden piece o water, Rowin Foula doon!
- for the best fishing off Papa Stour, you had to row into the Atlantic until the cliffs of Foula dropped out of sight. They're 1200 ft high and can be seen for 40 miles, and Foula itself is 20-some miles offshore, so that's 60 miles out. The boats were frail open "sixareens" and a trip took 3 days, with two trips a week.

You need wheels to reach Staneydale Temple, five miles east of Walls, or West Burrafirth for the ferry to Papa Stour.

  • 1 Lea Gardens along A971 towards Walls are open Apr-Oct: F-W 2-5PM, adult £4.
  • 2 Stanydale Temple (southwest of Bixter). 24 hr. Large walled enclosure, once timber-roofed, dating to 2000-2500 BC. An early investigator dubbed it a "temple" as it resembles early Mediterranean temples. Whether it was primarily ritual or domestic or defensive is still debated (and whether its occupants would make that distinction), but it was obviously an important building. Not a tree for miles as you follow the lane (a lane? more like a tarmac bootlace) so the timbers were driftwood from Scandinavia. Don't take the side-lane to Staneydale, but continue by the little loch and watch for the brown signpost. An indistinct muddy path leads southwest for a mile to the site. Free.    
  • 3 Culswick Broch is an Iron Age fortified dwelling. Until the late 18th century it was very well preserved (like Mousa Broch) then became tumbledown, so now 4 m of stonework remains. Free to access: drive to Culswick on B9071 then walk up the track.
  • The Steep Islands are a well-named pair just offshore south of Culswick, typical of this rugged coastline.
  • 4 Papa Stour is an island to the north with a population of barely 20, reached by ferry from West Burrafirth. Park there and don't bring your car, the island is only about two miles by two miles, in the shape of a crashed seagull. Its main attraction is its rock formations, where the sea has eroded the soft volcanic rock into stacks, arches, caves, blow-holes and "gloups". Erosion continues: in 1953 "Da Horn o Da Papa" crumbled into the sea, and in 1981 Kirstan's Hole collapsed, so the best nowadays is Aesha Head to the west, penetrated by a sea-tunnel. The Stofa is a reconstruction of the 13th-century Duke Hakon's house. There's no accommodation or other visitor facilities on Papa Stour but a day trip will be plenty.
  • 5 Ve Skerries are islets and rocks to the northwest: they're the "Vestan" or west skerries to distinguish them from the east or Out Skerries the other side of Mainland. They've caused many shipwrecks but the lighthouse wasn't built until 1979.
  • 6 Sandness (pronounced "Sanness") is the tiny settlement at the end of A971. Melby at the tip looks across to Papa Stour a mile away, but there's no ferry from here. The near islet just east is Holm of Melby, and has three Neolithic burial cairns.
  • 7 Vaila, but only from a distance: the headland near Burrastow House is a good viewing point. Its Jacobean mansion was rebuilt in the 19th century and refurbished in the late 20th. It's now an organic sheep farm, private property and with no ferry.
  • Linga is an island half a mile off Walls and sheltered by Vaila. With an area of one square mile, it's grazing land with a ruined farmhouse, and in 2020 was for sale for £250,000. Just be careful to buy the correct real estate: "linga" is Norse for heather or ling island, and there are some 15 of that name in the Shetlands alone.
Staneydale Temple
  • Walls Agricultural Show was traditionally held first Saturday in August, but it hasn't happened since 2017 and may be defunct.

The convenience store, next to the bakery, is open M-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-4:30PM.

Waas Bakery in the village does nice pastries.



Bring your own. Burrastow House serves alcohol to residents but doesn't have a public bar.


The Steep Islands near Culswick Broch
  • 1 Burrastow House (2 miles southwest of Walls), +44 1595 809307. 6-room hotel from £50 per person, dinner £35.
  • Bo's B&B is close to Burrastow house. Just the one double room, B&B £40 ppn, book on +44 1595 809258.
  • There are four self-catering cottages near the village.



As of Nov 2021, there is no signal from any mobile carrier in the vicinity of Walls or West Burrafirth, or on Papa Stour.

Go next

  • On Mainland, see Lerwick, the only town of any size on the islands, and Scalloway the former capital.
  • Park up at Walls to take the ferry to the remote island of Foula. You'll have to return the same way.

This city travel guide to Walls is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.